I’ll never forget where I was standing when I found out I had passed the Bar exam.
Right outside Cris Quinn’s office, one of the partners of Reaud, Morgan and Quinn, the law firm where I’d only been working a few months.
It was melodramatic, I know, but that news brought such relief that I immediately dropped to my knees and kissed the floor. And I just stayed there crouched down with my face to the floor, half in tears, half in laughter, saying “thank you, God, thank you, God, thank you, God” over and over.
Quite the spectacle in an otherwise somber law firm.
When Cris heard all the commotion and came out of his office, I stood up and he grinned from ear to ear, shook my hand, and was the first to say, “Congratulations, Counselor!”
Cris was the partner who hosted my welcome dinner at his house when I first moved to Beaumont, and he planned the party to celebrate my passing the Bar.
A devout Catholic, Cris was also the partner in the firm who bought fish dinners for everyone on Good Friday and made sure we all went to Red Mass every year, a Catholic service for the legal profession.
Cris was a good man. A kind-hearted man.
That’s why a few years later, when an elderly man whose case we had declined because he didn’t have a legitimate claim made an appointment to discuss it, Cris agreed to meet with him. Cris came out to greet the man and walked him back to his office, where the old man pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of a box he’d brought with him and shot Cris twice, as he was sitting down behind his desk.
When I heard that Cris had been killed, I dropped to my knees again, and thought about all the people who would’ve been working around Cris’s office at the time. People in the same spot where I’d stood earlier, and so many other times.
How terrified they must have been in that moment.
How haunted they must have been for days, weeks, months to come.
The unfathomable heartache of a wife and five children.
Children whose father had been a star football player at Baylor University, but felt football was too dangerous, so he encouraged his daughters and sons to play soccer. And he was the dad
who built the city complex of soccer fields so all the kids in Beaumont could play.
Death is hard enough, but when it’s so abrupt – and so intentionally violent – it’s horrific.
People in hospitals in Aurora, Colorado, understand that. So do the families of the victims in that movie theatre.
And we drop to our knees again.